People often ask me how I can send so many thank-you cards. I send over 500 annually. I know that sounds like a lot (almost two a day) but it’s actually pretty simple. Let me bottom-line how easy it is.
What I’m going to share has evidence behind why it works. James Clear wrote a great book called Atomic Habits. He explains why some habits stick and some die off (or fail to take root). And anyone who understands behavioural psychology will know BF Skinner’s Operant Conditioning that says behaviour is determined by its consequences; our behaviour is impacted by reinforcements (that make it more likely to continue) or punishments (which make it less likely that the behaviour will occur again). The goal of your recognition habit is for it to be reinforcing (and not feel like a punishment) – “it’s just another thing to do”.
The four Atomic Habits laws of behaviour are:
- Make it Obvious
- Make it Attractive
- Make it Easy
- Make it Satisfying
In other words, make recognition obvious by pairing it with something you already do; find an approach that you find enjoyable not cumbersome; select the easiest and quickest strategy for you; and the satisfying part takes care of itself when you see the positive responses you get from doing it!
So, what are the ways you could have obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying recognition approaches? Some ideas:
For a monthly fee that I don’t even have to think about, I can send a card in under 60 seconds using SendOutCards. The app is on my phone and desktop with my password already saved. I select one of hundreds of cards available or upload a special photo to create a unique picture card. When addresses get added, so do anniversaries (such as when I hired a staff member) and birthdays so it alerts me week in advance. It’s attractive, easy, and satisfying.
Have a stack of thank-you cards handy for you and others in the workplace (to see a video that talks more about this, click here). You may have corporate cards provided by the company or opt to buy a stack from your local stationary store, order online or even make your own! My mom’s an artist so she’s designed a graphic representation of my brand to have custom cards printed in bulk (I use VistaPrint but you can use any local or online printer.) Similarly, you may have a talented amateur artist on your team who would love the opportunity to showcase his or her skills (if don’t think you do, just ask at your next team meeting and I bet you’ll find someone is secretly housing artistic skills!). Have a stack in your office, in every workplace location, and in your portfolio or bag; if you have a minute rather than pull out your phone, grab a card to write. Make it obvious and easy.
You can use small kudos cards to write a short (one word to a full sentence) and then either give it to them directly or tack it to a kudos board. Some workplaces have virtual kudos boards such as Tuba, your own intranet or even your company Facebook page. The benefit is they’re the fastest and easiest way to write a note and so small you can have them with you always. Even faster is to put a few compliment cards in your pocket or portfolio to hand out as the opportunity arises. Again, great examples of making it attractive, easy and satisfying seeing the reaction you get!
If you need more help in creating a recognition habit beyond what we’ve talked about there, check this out.
Remember, anything you do is better than nothing. A bit more is better than none. Ready to jump in?
Looking for more ways to Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness? Check out these other articles full of great recognition strategies: